52 billion animals killed in an year!

Posted by in Random Thoughts

Just heard this on BBC News – that 52 billion animals are killed every year – thats a billion a week – for feeding 6 billion human beings! And even more interesting that most of these billions doesn’t even see sun light as they are bred on industrial scale!

They were talking about some recent research done at University of Cambridge about feelings of animals. It seems finally they have proof that animals does have feelings. Now anyone who has ever lived in a farm or have talked to people (like my grand mother) – shouldn’t find this research surprising. I have always felt that birds and animals does have feelings. As rightly pointed out in the news item, the reason most of us are not aware of these feelings is just because none of us have ever spent sufficient time with any animals at all.

But then there was an interview with a farmer in UK. She says she has documented how her animals have exhibited some clear show of feelings – but – at the end of the day, she still feeds and breeds them to send them to the butcher. She says how she treats her animals – understanding their feelings and keeping them happy keeps leads to better quality of meat. Talk of commercialisation of feelings!

I hope this new body of evidence leads to some – well, I wanted to use the word humane, but that sounds so out of place somehow – better treatment for all these animals.


Two interesting news items from recent days made me think about this post. Japan lost its battle at the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial whaling.  Japan cites science and tradition for killing whales and yes, eating them. I fail to understand where does science come in when almost all the whales killed goes straight to restaurants.  Tradition – again i fail to see much depth in this argument. First whale population has dwindled drastically due to large scale killing.  Secondly, killing whales, with their size is not something that existed before early part of 20th century. But by 1960s, in less than 60 years we had managed to reduce 200’000 estimated whales to 6000 (Macdonald D, Encyclopedia of Mammals: 1, 1984.)  I think its less tradition and more some form of misplaced nationalistic feeling.

The second news item is the controversy that Disney has got into at their new Disneyland in Hong Kong – where they are virtually forced to serve shark fin soup – which is a long treasured delicacy at Chinese weddings. Again tradition. The cost – 100 million sharks are killed every year for human consumption. What will happen to all this tradition after all the sharks are gone!?

I read some suggestions which states that Japan and Norway should start non-lethal research into whale populations to see when various species can be harvested safely. And another one – to start farms for whales and sharks, like the ones that exists today for poultry and pigs and yes dogs in Vietnam.  In the light of the evidence of feelings that animals have, I wonder if indeed the only solution is managed killing of these animals?